The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 30, 2008

CSC wary of donation to music program “with strings”

by Cynthia Sorn

An offer by Carlisle parents Julia and Alex Krapf to donate $4,698 to cover the new $45 fee imposed on evening ban

d and chorus members caused much discussion at the May 21 Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting. Whether or not to accept the donation led to a review of accepting funds with stipulations.

Superintendent Marie Doyle read a letter from the Krapfs, which explained they have attached two requirements to the donation: that the CSC apply the donation to the music fees, and the CSC vote to reverse their decision on imposing new fees for band and chorus. “We understand donations tied to conditions are a difficult matter,” the Krapfs said. “We hope that rather than interpreting this as a conditional donation, you will see it as an unexpected windfall that allows you to reverse a fee that you did not wish to levy in the first place.”

CSC member Bill Fink, calling the offer “very generous,” asked what the issues would be in accepting a conditional donation. He also wondered if it would set a precedent.

CSC Chair Chad Koski replied that while he has no problem applying the donation specifically to the band and chorus, he had concerns about “the second part of the condition where they want to reverse the decision the School Committee made on the fees.” He said his concern was the “perception that it leaves” in that unpopular decisions the CSC can be reversed by donating funds. CSC member Louis Salemy said he agreed with Koski’s concerns.

CSC member Dale Ryder, noting it was an “incredibly generous offer,” expressed similar concern to Koski’s, saying she felt the fees, which are used to cover the stipends as students prepare for MICCA, are not “so extreme that it will have a damaging effect on families.” However she pointed out the Krapfs are “doing it with the best intentions” and not trying to manipulate the system. She asked if the committee could look at the donation in isolation and not be concerned about setting a precedent.

CSC member Wendell Sykes pointed out while this donation is “highly desirable” the next may be used to influence the school committee. But, he continued, the school accepts donations from the Carlisle Education Foundation. “How is that different? And where do you draw the line?”

Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman noted that many schools do not like to accept donations “with strings attached.” Krapf pointed out it was the “lightest of strings,” and said the committee is “setting very high standards for accepting future donations.” He noted the school accepts donations for pilot programs or personnel, with the intent to roll the costs in the budget in the future. “You should then reject such grants as well,” he said.

Koski agreed that refusing a donation if it requires the reversal of a decision is a high standard. “You’re right, if we look at just this, it is not a big deal,” he said. “But who knows what the next decision will be” that might be targeted for a reversal.

The committee will vote on the offer at the June 4 meeting. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito